Who: Young professionals a la Mad Men look-a-likes
What: Reach For Ralph
Where: BMW of Minnetonka
When: July 21, 2011
Why: To raise funds for Hammer Residences, Inc. in support of adults and children with developmental disabilities.
Cat-eye liner, felt fedoras, and plenty of go-go paisley print! This year’s Reach for Ralph: A Vintage Evening of Culture, Cars and Cocktails highlighted the “carpe diem” attitude of the 60s, as it focused on the importance of providing adults and children with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Hosted by BMW of Minnetonka, the event raised more than $96,000 for Hammer Residences, Inc.
Equipped with cork peep-toes and purple owl earrings, my first stop was The Classic Car Show zone, featuring vintage-attired fashion models where I was fortunate to spend a few minutes taking in the lines of a Chevy Nova and a cherry 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang convertible. As I admired the interior of a nearby Firebird, I met Rena Sarigianopoulos of KARE 11 who shared her passion for Hammer Residences and its mission.
“Not everyone is given the grounds to live their dreams,” Sarigianopoulos said. “I love Hammer because it is an organization that helps individuals live independently. They [Hammer] understand how important it is to support dreams and do everything to make them happen.”
One such dreamer is Lisa Poppe, who describes herself as a beatnik poet and Hammer Board Advisor, whose aspirations to become a writer were fostered by Hammer counselor Mary Gaasch. Poppe took classes at The Loft and now performs her work regularly. Her newest works are entitled “Butterfly,” and “Rain.”
After sitting in the driver’s seat of a 66 MG next to Poppe, I went back downstairs to peruse the items featured in the silent auction. Some of my favorites included a retro dessert set, four tickets to the August Sade concert, and a baseball signed by Scott Baker. Among the larger items being auctioned were a Twins vs. White Sox Party, a romantic evening in Minneapolis complete with chauffer service in a 1967 Lincoln Continental, and a two-bedroom villa stay at the Maui Marriot.
I sampled a salami roll-up and put in my bid for a rhinestone clutch before checking into my cocktail class, where SEVEN Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar bartender Jason Jones showed me how to make some classic cocktails from the 60s including the Blue Hawaii, The Old Fashioned, and The Sidecar. Combining proper measurements, muddling, and a distinct garnishing style, Jones proved his chops as a mixologist.
After I thanked Jones, the evening’s presentation began with Miss Minnesota 2011 Brittany Thelemann, who announced the winner of The Classic Car Show. Next up, was Hammer Residences CEO Tim Nelson who graciously acknowledged sponsors and supporters, looking like a 60s ad man in a dashing gray fedora and matching suit.
Following the live auction, Sarigianopoulos returned as the evening’s MC, and introduced Deb Eaton, a woman who has lived her entire life with cerebral palsy. Sarigianopoulos made one thing clear—Deb was courageous and had an immense passion for everything to do with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota Viking and Hammer supporter Wes Hamilton had previously heard about Deb's immense interest, and became involved. He got Deb into Winter Park earlier this month and made her a Viking for a day.
As the final program participant at Reach For Ralph, Deb approached the microphone in a Vikings jersey and matching hat, crediting Hammer and Hamilton with making her feel like a person instead of an object. Deb’s huge smile summed up the evening . . . absolutely boss!